Riverine Re[Sr]ch

Each October, eastern California shifts gears. Leaves change color, waterfalls diminish to trickles, and the wildlife inhabiting this stunning landscape prepare for winter. Carolina geologist Drew Coleman stands near a cliff face in Yosemite National Park, excitedly describing the surrounding topography to a small group of Carolina students.

As part of a first-year seminar, Carolina students spend their fall break with Coleman’s “Field Geology of Eastern California” class. It engages students in original research projects of their own design, which was the aspect of the trip that hooked Elena Watts. She went into the trip a biology and psychology double major, and by the end of the trip, was a geology major.  

“I’d like to think there’s a little bit of geologist in everybody, and you can’t go to a national park without engaging in geology,” Coleman said. “Everybody’s got this curiosity, and I think what the California trip does is turns it to eleven.”

Watts has spent the past three years at Carolina studying strontium in the Neuse and Cape Fear rivers. The results of her original work served as the basis for a grant that now funds other students in the geology department.

Read the complete Carolina Story from Endeavors…


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